We believe that there are seven key steps towards protecting our wildlife for the future, and The Wildlife Trusts across the UK are working towards these. They are:
1. Setting out a new vision. An ambitious vision is needed for the restoration and recovery of the natural environment, and the systems that underpin it.
2. Valuing nature’s cathedrals. The sites that we have sought to protect as nature reserves, and special refuges for protecting species and their habitats, are nature’s cathedrals. They have helped to bring back many species and habitats from the brink, and they will lie at the very heart of the new era of nature conservation. From internationally protected Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas down to our local Wildlife Sites, these special places must be maintained and their importance recognised as the key that they are to our future.
3. Put wildlife back on the map. To restore nature on a landscape scale, it will be vital for society to map out priority areas for ecological restoration. A spatial approach is a practical way to unite policy and people. A locally derived vision becomes real and exciting, and numerous strands of protection, incentive and investment can be drawn together. With statutory backing, locally defined frameworks for ecological restoration should inform long-term decisions on land-use and management. We have already begun this process in south west Wales by mapping our own priority areas for work based on ecological and societal features of our area.
4. Giving wildlife room to manoeuvre. If species and habitats are going to be able to adapt to a changing climate and landscape, they have to be able to move in space and time. To achieve this, we need to protect and enhance those areas that are already good for wildlife, to expand, buffer and connect these areas, and make the wider countryside more favourable and penetrable to wildlife.
5. Restore natural processes. A naturally functioning ecosystem is underpinned by an enormous array of individual processes such as pollination, water movement, soil formation and carbon sequestration. For wildlife to thrive, all these processes must be able to occur effectively. Many of them also support society as well as our wildlife.
6. Ensure there is wildlife on everyone’s doorstep. Nature matters to everyone. Wildlife has no concept of urban or rural and our rivers and natural processes span administrative boundaries. Every community in the country could be inspired to develop local solutions to the particular challenges for restoring nature in their area, and everyone should have an opportunity to experience amazing wildlife on their own patch.
7. Inspire a new type of partnership. Central and local government, agencies, the private sector and voluntary bodies will need to act in concert to ensure ecological restoration happens throughout the country. There will need to be recognition and respect for the wealth of local knowledge and ambition. There will be a need for measures to inspire and enable cross-boundary co-operation and opportunities to support the voluntary sector in its delivery.